Faith and History Conference

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On October 3, Dr. Jay Green, accompanied by six Covenant College students, departed from Mac Circle in a seven-passenger van and embarked upon a twelve-hour journey. The destination? The Conference on Faith and History.

This conference, established fifty years ago, is an affiliate of the larger American Historical Association. They publish a journal, called Fides et Historia, and exist to practice the discipline of history as Christians by considering the relationship of faith and history. This group holds biennial meetings around the country. This year’s host was Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The first day of the conference attracted student presenters from seventeen different universities, including the six students from Covenant. Students had the opportunity to present their papers, listen to other scholarship, and ask and answer questions. This provided a glimpse into the window of the academic practice of history.

History majors Samuel West (’19), Hannah O’Donnell (’20), Paige Hungar (’20), and Jessica Florey (’20) presented papers on the founding of the American republic, Catherine the Great, Vaclav Havel, and Deborah Sampson, respectively. Jag Williams (’19), a history and philosophy double major, spoke on the Victorian nude, while John Bush (’19) gave a paper about Hilary of Poitiers.

The next two days of the conference involved plenaries, paper presentations, and discussions by historians and educators from a variety of graduate, undergraduate, and high school programs, including Covenant’s Drs. Elissa Weichbrodt and Alicia Jackson.

Dr. Weichbrodt’s paper was entitled, “The Artist as Historian: Carrie Mae Weems and the Photographic Archive.” Weichbrodt gave an insightful chapel referencing Weems’ work in the Dangerous Ideas faculty lecture series in 2016.

In a panel on the civil rights movement in the Mississippi Delta, Dr. Jackson presented a paper entitled “Seek the Welfare of the City Where I Have Sent You.”

Dr. Green chaired a panel of several papers about the American Evangelical relationship with the past. As the outgoing president of the conference from 2016 to 2018, Dr. Green also introduced the new president, Beth Allison Barr, Professor of History at Baylor University.

Additional presenters at the conference included academics who have spoken or will be speaking at Covenant College, such as Dr. Otis Pickett and Jemar Tisby.

The theme of the conference was, “History and the Search for Meaning,” so the plenary addresses explored this idea. The plenaries discussed ideas such as engaging others with the past, the art of living in relation to the past, relating the church’s pattern with women to the conference, and clergy sexual abuse. Other topics explored were race, the environment, Christianity and social responsibility, pedagogy, Christianity and science, historiography, political hope, and many other topics related to faith and history.

Overall, attending the conference made quite an impact on the attendees.

O’Donnell said, “It was a great experience getting to know my classmates better and gaining understanding in the field of history.”

On the impact of the event, West said, “Attending the conference was an excellent opportunity for us to grow, both by presenting our research and by observing professional historians.”